Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is, very simply, rolled-up Japanese-style omelette. It can be eaten by itself as a snack, as wingman to a main dish, as part of a bento, or chopped up and plonked on top of sushi. Sweeter than its western counterpart, tamagoyaki is addictive in both flavour and method of construction. Yes that’s right: construction. There is something immensely satisfying about rolling up layers of omelette and getting them to fuse together. It’s devilishly difficult the first time around, but gets easier with practice. Have a go – the payoff is immense!

Ingredients (serves 2 as a side)

Eggs (x3 large ones)
Soy sauce (x1.5 tsp)
Sugar (x1.5 tsp)
Kelp dashi powder (x1 tsp)
Water (x2 tbsp cold, x1 tbsp boiling)
Oil

Specialist equipment

A small, rectangular frying pan (or makiyakinabe)

Method

1. Make the kelp dashi: Add the water (both cold and boiling) to a bowl (total: 3 tbsp), and mix in the kelp dashi powder.

1. Mix the ingredients: Transfer the kelp dashi to a mixing bowl, and add the eggs, soy sauce and sugar. Beat until combined, using a fork or chopsticks.

2. Prepare the pan: There are three important considerations when making tamagoyaki:

  • The pan should be kept on a medium-to-low-heat. A fried egg this is not; it takes time to do properly…
  • The pan should be well-oiled, but not over-oiled – this can be achieved by adding a little oil to the pan, and then smearing it around using a piece of folded kitchen towel (as you would grease a baking tray)
  • The pan should be kept moving – both on and off the heat, and tilted to keep moving the egg mixture around

With these considerations in mind, apply a few drops of oil to the pan and smear around the base and sides using a piece of kitchen towel. When this is done, warm it up to a medium temperature.

3. Make and roll the omelette: Once the pan is warm, take it off the heat and let it cool down a little. Pour in about one third of your egg mixture and swirl it around so that it covers the base of the pan. Put the pan back on the heat (medium-to-low heat), and pop any bubbles that arise using a chopstick. The layer of egg should be quite thin, and it should take a few minutes to solidify.

Once it is about 95% solid, start to unstick the omelette from the sides of the pan using either chopsticks or a thin spatula. Slowly start to roll it up, starting with the far side and rolling towards you. Once rolled, press it against the side of the pan nearest to you (where the handle is) and let it set for a few seconds. Then push it to the far side of the pan. The first roll is the least important, so don’t worry too much if you mess it up!

Wipe the base and sides of the pan with the oiled kitchen towel. Pour in another third of the egg mixture and, again, swirl it around so that it covers the base of the pan. Lift up the first roll of egg so that the mixture can get underneath it. Again, let it cook for a minute or two, popping any bubbles that arise.

Once about 97% solid, start to unstick the omelette from the edges of the pan and roll. Ultimately you want to roll the second layer around the first layer, so start from the far edge (where the first roll should be sitting) and slowly roll towards you. Although I say “roll”, it should form a square shape (like a box) rather than a circular shape (like a cylinder). Again, once rolled press against the side of the pan nearest to you and let it set, then push to the far side of the pan.

Oil the base and sides of the pan one last time. Pour in the final third of the egg mixture and repeat. The final layer is arguably the most important (as this is the outer layer that everyone will see), so don’t mess it up!

Once your third layer is rolled, take the pan off the heat and keep the complete tamagoyaki pressed against the side of the pan nearest to you for about a minute or so, to make sure it has set.

4. Leave it to rest: Transfer your tamagoyaki to a chopping board and let it rest for a few minutes. The key thing to bear in mind when cooking eggs is that they continue to cook without direct heat. What this means is that even when you turn the heat off, they continue to harden and take shape (albeit more slowly). This explains why the first layer should only be cooked to 95%, the second layer to 97% and the final layer to 99%. Once the omelette is complete, the residual heat will continue to cook and fuse the egg together. Eggs. They’re amazing!

Once a few minutes are up (or when it’s cool enough to handle with your handles), slowly chop it into wedges and serve. Behold! Itadakimasu!

See also:
This rather nifty (and instructive) YouTube video!

Acknowledgements: recipe courtesy of MiKa!

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5 thoughts on “Tamagoyaki

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